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Airbus Chiefs Criticize Power Sharing and Government Meddling

The French and German joint chiefs of troubled European plane maker EADS, manufacturer of the Airbus, Saturday criticized the way their company was run, saying the double presidency they share added to the problems.

They spoke against a background of Airbus restructuring including 10,000 planned job cuts in plants in four countries over the next three years following a series of problems, including crippling delays to the flagship A380 superjumbo project.

Louis Gallois, French co-president of EADS, was set to meet union leaders Monday to discuss the situation. In an interview with the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung Saturday, Gallois criticized the double presidency management arrangement, saying: "The main disadvantage of the double structure is that it creates a French camp and a German camp, because you have a French boss and a German boss at the same time."

Gallois bemoans French and German camp structure

"The other drawback is that it slows down the decision-making process a lot," he said, while noting it was up to EADS shareholders to change the situation.

"I don't have the cards in my hand. We can live with (the dual structure) but in the future, we should see that EADS and Airbus are normal companies. Today they are not," Gallois said.

In an interview with the German news magazine Focus to be published on Monday, the German co-president Thomas Enders also criticized the EADS management structure, saying: "Louis Gallois would prefer, like me, to be the only boss in charge."

Enders unhappy with state involvement

But he said the shareholders must decide, adding: "I would prefer a company in which the state does not get involved."

Gallois will on Monday meet with trade unions to discuss potential repercussions of the Airbus restructuring plan, union sources said Saturday.

Gallois, who in addition to being co-president of EADS is also president of the Airbus subsidiary, will meet 25 EADS union representatives from France, Germany, Britain and Spain to hear their fears about how the so-called Power8 plan for job cuts will affect their members.

Unions call strike for Tuesday

The plan, announced on February 28, will see 10,000 Airbus jobs cut across Europe in an effort to save five billion euros ($6.58 billion) between now and 2010. Airbus unions have called a strike on Tuesday in protest at the losses.

The plan includes axing 4,300 jobs in France, 3,700 in Germany, 1,600 in Britain and 400 in Spain. At the special meeting on Monday, EADS unions and management will also look at the progress made on moving IT, administrative and financial services from EADS subsidiaries like Airbus, Eurocopter or Astrium, to the parent company.

In an interview with the Financial Times on Saturday, Gallois accused European governments of interfering in the restructuring of Airbus, saying national conflicts were "poison" for the company.

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Airbus Chiefs Criticize Power Sharing and Government Meddling